After missing Bangladesh's 100th Test and the series against Australia, Mahmudullah returns for the South Africa series. © Getty Images

After missing Bangladesh’s 100th Test and the series against Australia, Mahmudullah returns for the South Africa series. © Getty Images

Bangladesh have recalled Mahmudullah in the 15-man squad for the two-match Test series against South Africa, which gets underway on September 28.

Subhasis Roy and Rubel Hossain were also included in a bid to boost the side’s pace attack.

Shakib Al Hasan, the world’s leading allrounder who sought a six-month break from the game’s longest format, has been excluded from the group that will play two Tests in Potchefstroom, and Bloemfontein, from October 6. There was also no place for Nasir Hossain, who struggled in his comeback series against Australia.

Minhajul Abedin, the chief selector, said it was really tough to replace someone of Shakib’s calibre. “I respect his decision but of course it is very hard to replace him,” he said on Monday (September 11). “We have to take into account his mental state because as a player I understand what he may be going through physically and mentally.”

“We still cannot think of a team without Shakib. But he wanted a break and it was granted. He was playing for a long time in all formats. So he needed a rest. Of course, without him we will be on the back foot, still we have to manage it.”

Squad: Mushfiqur Rahim (capt, wk) Tamim Iqbal, Soumya Sarkar, Imrul Kayes, Sabbir Rahman, Mahmudullah, Liton Das, Mehidy Hasan, Taijul Islam, Mustafizur Rahman, Rubel Hossain, Shafiul Islam, Taskin Ahmed, Subashis Roy, Mominul Haque.

Mahmudullah, who was dropped from Bangladesh’s historic 100th Test, in Sri Lanka, was back in contention due to his decent record in seaming conditions. His one century in the format came against New Zealand in Hamilton in 2010. “In South Africa, the ball comes out onto the bat and Riyad plays well in those conditions,” offered Abedin.

Despite not being up to the mark against Australia in the Test series which ended in a 1-1 draw, Soumya Sarkar and Imrul Kayes managed to keep their spot. While Kayes could only score 21 runs in four innings against Australia, Sarkar mustered 65.

“South Africa is a very challenging place to play, that is why we thought we need experience and so we picked Imrul,” explained Abedin. “Plus, the wickets in South Africa are bouncy and Imrul plays well square of the wicket. So we thought we will see him for one more series.”

The Test series will be followed by three One-Day Internationals and two Twenty20 Internationals.